239 ROH Glory By Honor VIII The Final Countdown 9/26/2009

ROH 239 – Glory By Honor 8: The Final Countdown – 26th September 2009

The Final Countdown Tour concludes tonight at the eigth annual Glory By Honor event. This is being billed as one of the biggest ROH shows to date, and critical reception to this show would suggest they delivered. The card is certainly pretty impressive with Chris Hero and Eddie Kingston out to settle their rivalry, a Briscoes/Young Bucks rematch, another A-Double L-Double (Austin Aries’ Lucky Lottery), Ladder War 2 and the final ROH appearances of two of the greatest ROH Champions and finest competitors in company history as Bryan Danielson and Nigel McGuinness lock horns one more. We’re in Manhattan, NY although the show is back in the Manhattan Center Grand Ballroom rather than the Hammerstein. The cost of booking the venue combined with the risks of not packing out the place meant ROH took the decision to downsize again. The doomsday theorists will herald it as another nail in the coffin, although most ROH fans are actually pretty happy as the atmosphere of the more intimate NYC venue always comes off very strongly to both live and DVD audiences. Commentary comes from Dave Prazak, Eric Santamaria and Chris Hero.

ROH VIDEO WIRE – See Final Countdown Tour: Boston (ROH 238) review for details

Rhett Titus vs Colt Cabana

As we saw in the Video Wire, whilst some will label this as harmless comedy fun, Rhett is calling this a grudge match, still angry at Cabana for busting his eyebrow wide open during a tag match at the last Dayton show. He’s set on getting some revenge tonight.

Titus tears off his bowtie because he is all business tonight. Cabana, on the other hand is at his goofy best as he gives Rhett a big slap on the ass instead of following the Code Of Honor. Titus reacts angrily, but quickly has to dive to the ropes as Colt aim another elbow in his direction. Next Cabana baits the ref into assisting him with a make a wish split…but comes up and EATS a dropkick from Titus. Mounted THRUSTS (seriously, groin to face thrusting) come next from Rhett, followed by the Thrustbuster for 2. He goes upstairs but his axehandle attempt is met with a strike to the midsection which evens the match up. Flying Asshole nailed, but Titus swings in a knee to the stomach. He goes for another dropkick though, and Colt capitalises by locking in the Billy Goat’s Curse to win at 06:31

Rating – *** – I’ve generously gone 3* on this, because I thought, even with the brief time allocation they were given, they told a great story in this one. Rhett showed fantastic character progression to keep elements of his goofy character, but ditch other stuff so it FELT like he was working a grudge match. There was no bow tie, no Sexy Suplex, no ‘brother’-ing, no needless posturing etc. He worked locks of kicks, big knee strikes and generally kept his overall character intact but with a far more intense edge. And in turn that played well into Cabana’s routine, as he looked to use comedy to outmatch the overly serious adversary. Fine choice to open a show

Dark City Fight Club vs Up In Smoke

Interesting match, with the DCFC having proven adept at squishing smaller teams like flies…unless they’re called the Young Bucks. And speaking of the Bucks, they defeated Cheech and Cloudy last night in what was clearly Up In Smoke’s best match since they reappeared on the ROH landscape. I’m curious to see how competitive UIS are booked to look against Davis and Chavis here.

Cheech goes all lucha to look for an advantage on Jon Davis, bringing Cloudy in for a neat double team sequence to gain an early nearfall. Unfortunately for him Davis is able to catapult him towards Rainman in the corner, who blasts him in the back of the skull. The momentum immediately shifts into the favour of the DCFC who take turns in beating up a hapless Cheech. Cloudy gets a tag, but he’s so little he can barely reach Chavis’ face, and he’s nearly put away inside 10 seconds of ringtime after a Hart Attack Leg Lariat. Back breaker/leg drop combo leaves him flat on the mat and needing a save from his partner to keep him in the match. Effortless stalling vertical suplex from Davis plants him again…and again after a big spinebuster. The momentum of the match has stalled a little, made apparent by Hero and Prazak as they discuss the order in which teams like ‘Cheech and Cloudy’ or ‘Steen and Generico’ are named. Cheech in, using his speed to get the best of the Fight Club, before diving to the outside into a tope on Chavis. Facebuster on Davis, before lifting Cloudy into a swinging DDT on him. Rainman gets double kicked into the ropes…before Davis drags Cloudy out and KILLS him with an elbow strike. POOOUUUUUUUUNCE on Cheech! Powerbomb ROLLED INTO THE DARK CITY STREET CUTTER! DCFC chalk up another one at 09:40

Rating – ** – At 10 minutes this was a little long for a squash match, and it was FAR too one sided to be considered a competitive match either. I like both teams, and they definitely add real depth to the tag division without (I imagine) being overly expensive to book. I would like to see the Fight Club mix it up with one of the heavy hitters of the tag division sometime soon though…

Kevin Steen and El Generico are ready for Ladder War 2. Steen says breaking Eddie’s elbow in Boston last night was just the prelude to what is to come tonight.

Claudio Castagnoli vs Kenny Omega

At Final Battle 2008 we saw these two clash in a competitive match which saw Omega emerge victorious. It was a big night for Kenny, but after a year spent dancing with the main eventers and challenging for the World Title, Claudio saw losing to Omega in the opening match as a major disappointment. He started the year desperate to get back to winning ways and push back towards those main events. And having been sidetracked by his feud with Brent Albright, he’ll now be looking to continue his upwards progression on the card at the expense of the man he now associates with one of the lowest moments of his Ring Of Honor career.

Claudio gloves Omega in the face…something which Kenny was prepared for as he pulls his own glove out of his trunks and delivers one right back. STOP SIGN ENZI gets us started! Kenny lines up the Bermuda Triangle and nearly gets German suplexed to the floor. Instead Castagnoli opts to fling him into the guardrails, shutting down Omega’s initial momentum. Back inside he catches Kenny going for a headscissors and drops him into a vicious backbreaker for 2. Omega climbs the ropes again going for the frog crossbody…only for Castagnoli to roll through and deliver a Samoan drop. More minutes pass with Claudio shutting down most of Omega’s offence, until Kenny finally lands the leapfrog bullog. Norman Smiley Slam (seriously) into a springboard moonsault gets 2, and he comes up with a SNAP DRAGON SUPLEX! Real ugly landing for Double C, and he rolls straight to the outside. Omega gives chase with a corkscrew pescado. Claudio tries to powerbomb him out there…but it’s COUNTERED to the Bermuda Triangle moonsault. Frog Crossbody nailed second time of asking as well. UFO spinning slam from Claudio puts him down again. POP-UP EUROPEAN! RICCOLA BOMB COUNTERED TO THE SMALL PACKAGE THAT WON AT FINAL BATTLE! FOR 2! POP-UP EUROPEAN AGAIN…OMEGA KICKS OUT! HADOUKEN STRIKE! REVERSE RANA! But Claudio low blows the referee and uppercuts Omega again to take a cheap win in 09:37

Rating – *** – It’s been said multiple times before, but Claudio Castagnoli is such a strong talent when it comes to working with smaller, high-flying opponents. This was so much fun with Omega charging around all over the shop, either sticking an amazing move or getting caught by Claudio in an incredible counter. I loved the way they referenced their Final Battle ’08 match, and I loved that Castagnoli won (albeit cheaply) to avenge that defeat and play-up the fact that he’s a major threat to the singles division now he’s emerged from the Albright feud.

The American Wolves are in the back, and Eddie Edwards rants in a somewhat deranged manner that it somehow doesn’t matter about his fractured elbow (he was prepared to be injured in one of his matches this weekend), they’ll still keep the belts.

Next Bret Hart returns to the Manhattan Center, putting over the ROH wrestlers and New York fans. He recalls some of his favourite matches in New York against the likes of Owen Hart, Curt Hennig and Yokozuna (all of whom are no longer with us sadly).

Roderick Strong vs Grizzly Redwood vs Sonjay Dutt vs Delirious

The burning issue in this one will be the interactions between Sonjay and Delirious – who wrestled last night, and saw Dutt lay out Delirious then plant one on Daizee after losing the match. Roddy picked up a big win when he managed to defeat Nigel McGuinness, so he’ll want to keep his momentum going.

Sonjay goes straight to the outside to chase Daizee again and ends up getting driven into the railings by Delirious. In the ring Grizzly manages a flying headscissors on Strong before delivering a sliding bulldog for 2. Roderick hits back with a backbreaker into a turnbuckle throw on Redwood but in turn takes the Leaping Lariat from Delirious. Sonjay and Delirious clash again, with Grizz arriving late to pick up the pieces and look to snatch a win on Dutt as he’s dazed. APRON BACKBREAKER from Strong to Delirious. Dutt works Redwood over, all the time giving Daizee the eye as she tries to revive Delirious on the outside. Strong saves the Littlest Lumberjack and takes Sonjay upstairs. POWERBOMB ELECTRIC CHAIR SUPLEX TOWER OF DOOM CAR CRASH OF TOTAL DEATH! All of a sudden fans are eating up Grizzly, who flings Dutt into the turnbuckles with a rana. Roderick hammers on Delirious, and when Sonjay looks to steal his pinfall he gets CHOPPED to f*ck! SLINGSHOT GUILLOTINE LEG DROP NAILED! But Dutt goes for another springboard move and sails into a MID-AIR TORPEDO HEADBUTT! ELEVATED CUTTER BY STRONG! DÉJÀ VU BY SONJAY! Roderick throws Redwood to the floor, but can’t even turn before Delirious grabs him for a COBRA CLUTCH SUPLEX! PANIC ATTACK! Dutt flings him to the floor as he goes for Shadows Over Hell and tries to go the top himself. AVALANCHE SHIRANUI GETS 2! But Dutt opts to celebrate by trying to expose himself to Haze. TORTURE RACK BACKBREAKER! SICK KICK! GIBSON DRIVER! Strong delivers a devastating combo to pin Sonjay at 11:54

Rating – *** – Total spotfest, but what a blast it was. Is it just me, or was Grizzly Redwood totally hanging with three experienced, globally travelled veterans of the indy scene like Dutt, Strong and Delirious there? I think the strongest compliment you can pay him is that there wasn’t a weak link to be seen here. Not one for the psychology nuts to savour but if you enjoy a good offensive splurge you’ll love this. Plus Sonjay Dutt is strangely good as a weird stalker guy.

American Wolves vs Kevin Steen/El Generico – ROH Tag Title Ladder Match

This is only the second time Ring Of Honor has ever brought out the infamous ‘Ladder War’. The first one between the Briscoes, Steen and El Generico was so violent that then-booker Gabe Sapolsky vowed that he’d never book another. And he lived up to his word…but in the end it was Steen, on the losing team at Man Up in the first Ladder War, that wound up demanding Ladder War 2 to settle this intense and violent feud. It started at the end of last year when the American Wolves, a new team looking to make an impression on the tag division, launched attacks on the Briscoes and Steen-erico in the same weekend. They put Mark Briscoe out of action for over six months, and started their war with then-champions so they certainly made an impact. As the feud spilled onto HDNet, the Wolves were finally able to win the belts when they bested their rivals in a memorable Tables Match, before the teams went to Montreal and contested a trios match which saw El Generico finally succumb to a knee injury he’d first picked up during a Davey Richards attack in Florida. Such was his hatred for the Wolves, and desire to get the belts back, Kevin Steen even formed a team with bitter rival Jay Briscoe for a time. They’ve had crazy matches all over the ROH circuit, but it all comes to an end this weekend. Even more drama was added last night in Boston when Eddie Edwards suffered a fractured elbow in his Anything Goes Match with Steen…but incredibly he still competes tonight. They’ve spent all year saying ‘The Hunt Is On…’, but can the Wolves survive being hunted by a team with four fully-functioning arms and experience in the insanity that is a Ladder War?

Eddie Edwards’ arm is very heavily bandaged…seriously, he is CRAZY to work this match. The fans show their appreciation by giving him a standing ovation and chant before the match even starts. No mercy from Steen, who starts BITING HIS FACE! Eddie tries to fire back with jabs from his good arm but just can’t compete. Generico brings a ladder in and starts hammering him in the ribs with it. Steen holds Richards in the corner so he can taste some ladder too. They go for the belts but it’s way too early and Edwards pulls Steen down. Generico punishes him by taking him to the floor and throwing him ARM-FIRST into the railings. BACK SUPLEX ON A LADDER for Davey. But when Generico goes for the belts again Richards is up in time to pelt him with a chair. Edwards is held down with a ladder over his head and torso…SOMERSAULT LEG DROP TO THE LADDER! Generico takes a run at the Wolves, only to eat a double back drop through another ladder. The Wolves handcuff Kevin’s hands behind his back, thus negating the arm advantage held by the challenges, and leaving him wide open for Eddie to drill a ladder firmly into his stomach. Richards then drills Generico with the Alarm Clock before the Wolves hit the SUPERKICK GERMAN COMBO THROUGH A TABLE! Richards brings the chain from the Never Say Die match…UNPROTECTED, CHAIN-WRAPPED KAWADA KICKS ON STEEN!

Amazingly, Steen tries to fight back by kicking Davey in the balls, then uses his body to knock Eddie off the ladder as he tries to make a dash for the straps. Generico returns with Yakuza Kicks, then goes after Shane Hagadorn to get the handcuff keys. Now free of the cuffs, Steen starts bring more tables into play, positioning them across the ring, with a ladder in between. It takes quite a while to set this up…so Generico waffles Eddie with a chair, whilst Steen balances a ladder between table and rail, then stacks a table on top of that! EDWARDS IS POWERBOMBED INTO THE LADDER! Richards grabs Steen for a TORNADO DDT THROUGH A TABLE ON THE FLOOR! Generico wants the gold but Davey chases him up the ladder. Generico grabs Davey…SUNSET BOMB OFF THE LADDER THROUGH A TABLE! Is Richards dead?? But as the luchador goes for the belts again, this time it’s Eddie who gives chase. Fans want another sunset bomb…EDWARDS WITH A BACK BODY DROP OFF THE LADDER AND THROUGH THE TABLE! And Eddie recovers quickly to superkick a chair into Steen’s face too. Hagadorn brings in a ladder so big that Edwards, with one good arm, can barely set up. THROUGH THE LADDER TOPE CON HILO BY GENERICO! Steen climbs…EDWARDS SHOVES HIM THROUGH THAT CRAZY TABLE/LADDER STACK ON THE FLOOR! Broken arm and all, Edwards starts climbing, with fans apparently desperate for him to win – there are even boos when Generico arrives to stop him. They slug it out at the top of the ladder. ACHILLES TENDON LOCK IN THE SKY! RICHARDS GOES PAST THEM TO GRAB THE BELTS! The Wolves complete a sensational win at 23:57

Rating – ****1/2 – This wasn’t completed with the precision and unrelenting brutality of the first Ladder War. There was more dead time and this was much more a procession of crazy spots, rather than a grudge match which NEEDED the crazy spots to settle the feud which we saw with Briscoes vs Steen-erico in Chicago. BUT, it very much deserves to be called an MOTYC. Eddie Edwards showed incredible(by incredible, I probably mean incredibly stupid, but as a fan I truly appreciate him doing it) levels of courage to go into this match with a broken arm. And, although he was protected, he still took some incredible bumps for a guy who had suffered such a severe injury just 24 hours earlier. In the end, he sort of became the focal point of the match, with most of the crowd almost wanting HIM to win simply because he was showing amazing dedication just to be out there. And it’s a wonderful show of faith in the Wolves by ROH management to keep the belts on them even when, at this point, it probably wasn’t entirely clear how long Eddie could expect to be on the shelf. Comparisons to Ladder War 1 aren’t fair, but as a standalone match in the year 2009, this is undoubtedly a classic, MOTYC-level match that the rest of the show will have a hard time topping.

Chris Hero vs Eddie Kingston

This feud has played out almost entirely on HDNet, where we’ve seen King desperately seeking a match with Hero, only to find Chris ducking out and avoiding physical contact as far as possible. Eddie blames Hero for holding him back, keeping him out of ROH, bringing him in as part of the CZW invasion for the Cage Of Death match at Death Before Dishonor 4, before leaving him high and dry and cutting his own deal with ROH later in the year. These guys have feuded in basically every indy promotion in America but, as Hero pointed out on the recent Video Wire, he believes the reason that he’s been in ROH, he gets to go to Japan regularly and he is considered one of the best in the world whilst Kingston struggles to get his foot in the ROH door isn’t that he’s holding him back…it’s just that he’s better than him. And as if Hero needed any motivation, he’s currently missing his Loaded Elbow after Eddie Kingston stole it at recent HDNet tapings.

Just like their HDNet match, Kingston warms Hero in the corner and peppers him with body shots, then drags him out with a capture suplex. Shane Hagadorn distracts King, allowing Hero to deliver a boot to the head then throw him into the guardrails. FLOOR MAT SENTON FROM THE APRON! That winds Eddie, and he’s left almost defenceless as Hero peppers him with elbow strikes. Kingston is positioned in the ropes before Chris goes to the floor to deliver a sweet sliding kick to the exposed head. Now Hero makes it personal by hitting some trademark Kingston chops…but it actually fired Eddie up to hit a German suplex. Chops from Kingston…he absorbs another elbow then clobbers Hero all the way to the floor with a lariat. Butt ugly tope suicida scores as well for the Last of a Dying Breed as he explodes back into the match after minutes of Hero dominance. Chris tries to keep him at bay with a headbutt…AND BUSTS HIMSELF OPEN! Kingston pounces, biting at the laceration, then holding him down to punch and claw at it. Urinage suplex…LARIATOOOOO! Hero kicks out at 2! But he’s pouring blood now, visibly struggling to catch his breath and even after coming from the second into a blockbuster, takes moments to recover before making a pin attempt. Slaps from King, but Hero absorbs them to deliver a Ligerbomb for 2. Rolling Elbow countered with a palm strike and Eddie gets another nearfall off a northern lights bomb. NECK DROP DRAGON SUPLEX! Just two again though. He lines up the Back Fist but spins into an elbow flurry. DEATH BLOW! GETS 2! Kingston fires back to his feet with chops. EXPLODER SUPLEX…NO SOLD! CRAVAT SUPLEX…NO SOLD! BACK DROP DRIVER! BOTH MEN DOWN! Now King goes to his corner and pulls out the stolen ‘lucky’ elbow pad…LOADED BACK FIST NAILS HAGADORN! But in the melee Hero pulls out a new loaded (golden) elbow pad. GOLDEN ROLLING ELBOW! Hero wins at 16:10

Rating – *** – The crowd was understandably pretty deflated given the insanity of Ladder War 2 which preceded it, and I’ve seen some pretty poor reviews of this natch. But I thought it was good. Not all of it was particularly attractive to watch – but they did a great job making this feel like a fight. A while ago on HDNet Necro Butcher and Brodie Lee said they were going to have a heated fight, and all they did was the usual Necro brawl spots and it came off as totally mundane. Here these two did very little other than kick, elbow, chop, slap and punch each other. It wasn’t pretty but, even in front of a dead crowd, they conveyed strong levels of hatred – and will hopefully get more matches in front of more receptive crowds to top this. As a first significant match in a feud I really liked this – again, I’ve seen people go WAY lower than me when rating this one though…

Up next, Austin Aries brings his ‘A-Double L-Double’ concept to New York and a DVD taping after the first instalment was such a huge success on HDNet. He draws the name and it’s…Bret Hart!? He doesn’t come out to claim his title shot…but fellow Canadian Petey Williams does. He takes the stick and shows why Team Canada had Scott D’Amore in TNA. Petey wants a title shot…and Aries jumps him before accepting…

Austin Aries vs Petey Williams – ROH World Title Match

This will definitely be more of a challenge for Austin that Grizzly Redwood gave him after the first Double L-Double on HDNet. Petey has looked to have Aries’ number on a couple of occasions recently. He’s managed to hit the Canadian Destroyer on him twice, and been unlucky not to score a pinfall in those matches. Can he do it tonight, defend the honour of fellow Canadian Bret Hart and leave New York as the new World Champion?

Even after being sucker punched Petey fights Aries off, forcing the champion to the floor to grab the mic and try to convince Todd Sinclair to call off the match. Headscissors escape dropkick misses, and Williams delivers a hanging dropkick in the ropes, followed by the Canadian Legsweep for 2. Slingshot Codebreaker is blocked though. Aries tries to capitalise with his slingshot senton, only for Williams to get his knees up and go for both the Canadian Destroyer and Sharpshooter in quick succession…with the champ blocking both finishers. A-Double starts working the neck as the whole retarded ‘twinky’ chanting between the ref and the New York crowd starts up. He lines up the Power Drive Elbow but takes so long he nearly gets trapped in the Sharpshooter again. That serves as a cue for Austin to start working the midsection instead. Not that Williams has much interest in selling it. Destroyer blocked again but this time Petey does manage to hit the slingshot Codebreaker for 2. STO/Power Drive Elbow combo from Aries gets a nearfall in return, but the crowd just isn’t into this at all. Sharpshooter from Williams…Aries punches his way free for rolling shinbreakers into a Figure 4 Leglock. Williams escapes, but he’s visibly injured and Austin capitalises on his lack of mobility to deliver a swinging neckbreaker in the ropes. Back Drop Driver plummets Williams down onto his neck again, and it’s followed by the IED, then the Brainbuster for 2. Sliding enzi kick from Petey, into the CANADIAN DESTROYER! But Aries is in the ropes at 2. Sharpshooter again, only for Aries to roll him out of the ring. Heat Seeking Missile scores…IED AGAINST THE RAILS! Williams barely beats the count back in, but winds up lunging under the ropes straight into the Last Chancery. Avalanche Brainbuster blocked…SUPER CANADIAN DESTROYER NAILED! But Aries falls out of the ring! Petey can’t get him back inside…BRAINBUSTER ON THE FLOOR! A-Double wins by count out at 20:03

Rating – ** – Way too long, and with the crowd basically crapping on the match I feel like between the officials in the back, the guys at ringside, two experienced wrestlers and the ‘senior’ referee, surely someone could have made the call to cut some time here. Watching this match rumble on for 20 minutes in front of a crowd which noticeably didn’t care and began entertaining themselves was almost painful. Whilst I think the wrestlers rightfully no-sold all the twinky crap, I think they stepped down their workrate because of it making everything feel so tedious. When Aries was working the neck this was pretty good. But so much of this was unfocused, and Petey’s performance was bordering on dreadful. He showed no emotion, gave the crowd NOTHING to rally behind as a babyface challenger, and seemed to literally coast through Aries’ periods on offence, just waiting for his chance to no-sell everything and hit a few spots. I’ve liked his ROH stuff so far but he really tanked on game night here

Eddie Kingston is in the back, still devastated at losing his match. Julius Smokes comes wanting to talk strategy with him. Is he back (again) then?

And back to ringside, where former ROH Commissioner Jim Cornette makes his ROH return, fresh after being dumped from the TNA creative team. He says he was ‘released’ by Dixie Carter for not being 100% behind Vince Russo’s creative direction. Luckily for him, Cary Silkin called him to offer a creative direction he could get behind. He returns to ROH in the position of Executive Producer on the HDNet show, which is a fantastic appointment. Austin Aries comes out to call James E. hard to work with, and Vince Russo his ‘bro’. Cornette makes fun of the A-Double L-Double and promises he’ll be facing the best ROH athletes now he’s on board. Aries says he’ll make Jim a triple crown winner – getting fired from WWE, TNA and ROH.

I didn’t sign up for the life story of a guy who chose TNA over ROH, spent the last few months of his last ROH tenure sucking shows down with 20-minute long, ego-feeding monologues during the ill-fated ‘Road Of Homicide’ storyline then voluntarily signed up to work alongside Russo, a guy who he’d spent years cussing out and swearing blind he’d beat up if he ever saw him again. And I don’t want to disrespect Cornette as he’s an asset to Ring Of Honor, and a guy who is obviously a strong fan of the company. The HDNet product has been calling out for a seasoned guy with masses of television experience, so he will doubtlessly be of immense value…and this was a fun segment. I could just have done without the crass TNA and WWE bashing. I’m treating his return as a positive thing, but NOT the homecoming of a returning hero or Ring Of Honor legend.

Young Bucks vs Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe

These two clashed on the first Final Countdown Tour show in Dayton, with the Briscoes scoring the victory in a great match. They’ve also gone to a no contest on HDNet so there’s a real rivalry developing here. The Jacksons will be absolutely desperate to pick up a victory over Ring Of Honor’s premier team.

Tentative, surprisingly grounded start from Mark and Nick, before the Bucks breakout the rapid fire tag sequence. Mark counters the traditional ending to that which is the top rope double stomp by pulling Matt into Nick’s path. Stereo backflips into stereo dropkicks from the Bucks to Jay. Impressively, Matt manages to outpunch Jay too…only for the older Briscoe to counter the leapfrog dropkick spot with a lariat on Nick. BRISCOE BIEL OVER THE TURNBUCKLES AND UP THE AISLE! The former ROH Tag Champions cut the ring in half, keeping Nick Jackson away from his brother in the corner. That is until Nick hits a lethal strike combo and gets the hot tag. Matt backflips under a clothesline attempt from Mark to hit a German suplex for 2. Spear into the springboard splash/standing moonsault combo gets the Bucks another 2 before Nick flies to the outside with a tope con hilo. Mark delivers an Ace Crusher from the second rope to get his own nearfall. Military press DVD from Jay to Nick for a close 2 as well. Matt saves his brother from the Doomsday Device before they deliver stereo superkicks. STEREO SUPERKICKS FROM THE BRISCOES IN REPLY! All four go down, then slowly get back up to charge into battle again. Slingshot facebuster from Nick, before he heads to the top for a POWERBOMB LUNGBLOWER COMBO! Springboard blockbuster nailed but still they can’t keep Mark down. Urinage on Nick, before he breaks out the Redneck Kung Fu. JAY DRILLER ON MATT! Nick saves at the last second. And the blond Buck even saves his partner from the Doomsday Device. MORE BANG FOR YOUR BUCK! The Jacksons beat the Briscoes in 17:04

Rating – *** – I’m in the minority that preferred the Dayton match to this one. I found that to be a little more grounded and structured. Whilst this one had some tremendous familiarity counters, and was very exciting in places, at times it just degenerated into a haphazard exchange of MOVEZZZZ that I wasn’t always digging. It also seems like the Bucks have worked the exact same match on every one of their ROH appearances thus far. Time for some variety methinks…

Bryan Danielson vs Nigel McGuinness

Having these two fiercest of rivals finish up their Ring Of Honor dates together is somehow poetic. When they first clashed in the superb ROH World vs ROH Pure Title Match at Weekend Of Champions Night 2 in Cleveland it was obvious to everyone that they had chemistry. Both similar in their sound grasp of the basics and high degree of technical ability, but also greatly different with Nigel’s height, power and hard-hitting proving a natural fit to oppose the lethal strikes and submission skills of Bryan. Their battles over the World Title from 2006 to 2008 are legendary. From the incredible, star-making title unification main event at Unified, the gruelling 60-minute 2/3 Falls Match at Epic Encounter 2, the ‘I won’t attack your head’ show-stealing match at the 6th Anniversary Show, even up to Rising Above 2008, in the match that I rated as ROH’s best of 2008 (as well as other great matches in Philadelphia, Cleveland, Las Vegas and Tokyo), this is a rivalry that has almost defined Ring Of Honor in recent years. Their personalities are such a natural clash too, with supposedly boring, ‘uncharismatic’ Bryan Danielson enjoying a fantastic relationship with the crowds, whilst the bigger, taller, apparently more charismatic Nigel combated multiple injuries and still struggled to win fans over. They leave ROH in most people’s ‘Top 3’ of ROH Champions (along with Samoa Joe) and, having each carried the belt with pride and distinction for lengthy periods, have done as much as anyone to establish the Ring Of Honor World Championship as one of the most significant titles in professional wrestling. They leave for bigger promotions and potentially bigger paydays, bowing out of ROH with one final instalment in their epic rivalry. At this stage it was thought they were both WWE bound, although with Nigel actually ending up in TNA, the winner of this match may well hold bragging rights over the other for the rest of their respective careers. As ROH fans, we all get one more chance to thank them for their amazing work and dedication to this promotion over the years.

Both guys get thunderous ‘Thank You’ chants which Nigel clearly gets quite emotional about (and given the frosty way in which he talks about the ROH fans in a bonus feature interview, that’s saying something). McGuinness starts by trying to use his height to his advantage, going for full nelson holds which Dragon uses repeated wristlocks to counter out of. Prazak points out that working Nigel’s arms may be a smart strategy given how messed up they are these days. But of course, working arms is Nigel’s forte, and he has no problems trading holds with the ‘best in the world’. Danielson slaps him in the mouth, then grounds him to start punching the ears. Ever the heel, McGuinness goes to the eyes, then returns to an onslaught on Bryan’s arm, prepping him for the London Dungeon. Danielson hits back with the judo DDT and a diving headbutt. That panics Nigel into going for the Tower Of London too early. Triangle Choke locked in by Dragon but it’s still early and McGuinness is able to find a rope. Danielson has the back superplex blocked so he tree of woes Nigel for some abuse then drags him back to hit the big suplex second time of asking. Cattle Mutilation COUNTERED TO THE TOWER OF LONDON! But he tries it again, this time to the floor, and winds up getting shoved into the crowd by Bryan. McGuinness hides behind security (one of the Bravado Brothers I believe) to avoid the crowd dive…so Danielson hits a flying knee from the apron instead. SPRINGBOARD CROWD DIVE NAILED! But he takes too long celebrating and allows Nigel to fling him head-first into the ringpost, busting him wide open in doing so. Quick to capitalise, McGuinness his a Tower Of London TO THE FLOOR, planting Dragon on his bloody face again. He takes him to the corner…AND RAMS HIS HEAD INTO THE TURNBUCKLES AS DRAGON DID TO HIM AT UNIFIED! Bryan barely beats the count-out, and his reward for doing so is a TOWER OF LONDON TO THE APRON! LONDON DUNGEON! Danielson refuses to tap and comes back into things by ducking a Super McLariat and hitting a missile dropkick. Tower Of London blocked…flying enzi nailed…but Nigel rides it into the JAWBREAKER LARIAT! FOR 2! LONDON DUNGEON AGAIN! Dragon tries to escape…so it’s LONDON DUNGEON OVER THE KNEES INSTEAD! COUNTERED TO MMA ELBOWS! NIGEL ESCAPES TO HIT MMA ELBOWS HIMSELF! BUT DRAGON NO SELLS! ONE MORE HEADBUTT DUEL BETWEEN THEM! Jawbreaker Lariat COUNTERED TO THE MR SMALL PACKAGE FOR 2! JAWBREAKER LARIAT NAILED AGAIN! BOTH MEN DOWN! CATTLE MUTILATION! MMA ELBOWS! KICK YOUR HEAD IN STOMPS! TRIANGLE CHOKE! TRIANGLE CHOKE WITH ELBOWS! DRAGON WINS! It’s over at 28:24

Rating – **** – Being totally clinical in my thoughts on this one – I’d say that the first half of this match was very dry and paint by numbers for these guys. It wasn’t bad, but it was very much going through the motions, unspectacular and pretty forgettable stuff. But the second 15 minutes were absolutely phenomenal – to the extent that I’d call it some of their best work together. The level of countering was immense, Nigel stealing the ringpost/head-smashing spot which basically defines his ROH career was absolutely epic and when it came to the stretch, they visibly had people on the edge of their seat wondering who’d win this climactic battle between the great rivals. The pay-off to Dragon losing all three of his Final Countdown Tour matches thus far is that the live crowd were buying into every single nearfall, totally believing that Dragon wouldn’t get the popular send-off victory we all wanted to see. This wasn’t a feel-good, casual, throwaway farewell match like Punk/Cabana, Joe/Homicide, Sydal/Delirious or Cabana/Pearce…it felt like a legitimate addition to their outstanding series of matches, and it’s almost a shame to think that they won’t get a chance to add more classics to that list after Nigel’s WWE deal was pulled and he ended up in TNA. With the curtain now down on both their ROH careers you can’t help but admire and be grateful for the incredible amount of hard work both men have put in for this promotion. Both guys carried the belt with immense pride and passion. Both men worked with legit severe injuries on multiple occasions, both men have put in multiple MOTYC’s, had great feuds and helped make new stars on their way out. ROH owes them a massive debt of gratitude, and as a fan of the company, I am immensely thankful to them for all they did in their respective tenures here. Best of luck to both in the future…

Obviously the locker room empties at the conclusion of the match…and there’s a lovely moment where the crowd chants of ‘Thank You Both’ die down, and the ROH wrestlers and staff break out into their own round of applause for their departing colleagues. McGuinness suffered (another) concussion somewhere in the match and is absolutely loopy, barely able to get back to his feet and his eyes rolling around in his head. His farewell speech is understandably curtailed as a result, but he staggers around the ring and manages to get out his thanks and emotional goodbyes before handing the stick to Danielson and slumping down into the corner again. Dragon is a lot more coherent and once again humbly puts over everyone else in Ring Of Honor above himself (including Aries who amusingly struggles not to break kayfabe, and Todd Sinclair). He also promises to deck John Cena…a promise he’d later fulfil at the onset of the infamous Nexus angle which saw him get sacked temporarily. Cue Final Countdown and Bryan makes his last walk out of the company he’s been headlining in since the very first show in 2002. Best of luck to him…

Tape Rating – **** – This absolutely FELT like a supershow, and that’s a vibe ROH has badly struggled to inject to it’s DVD tapings over the course of 2009 – so you have to count this as one of the shows of the year. Not all of it was outstanding, but it was long, packed with memorable moments, had two top notch main event bouts and delivered a very consistent night of wrestling. Sure Aries/Petey wasn’t great, but that lull was immediately saved by the surprise return of Jim Cornette. Bret Hart was here, Grizzly Redwood nearly stole the show in a cracking fourway spotfest, the Briscoes and the Bucks flew all over another building, Cabana and Titus entertained the hell out of me in the opener, Claudio/Omega was pretty great for it’s spot on the card too. I’m not going so far as to call it one of the best ROH shows of all time like some critics have done, but for this year, this was absolutely superb. Ladder War 2, featuring the ridiculous courage of Eddie Edwards, and the Nigel/Dragon farewell match are total must-sees. This is a show that needs to be in your ROH collection

Top 3 Matches

3) Chris Hero vs Eddie Kingston (***)

2) Bryan Danielson vs Nigel McGuinness (****)

1) American Wolves vs Kevin Steen/El Generico (****1/2)

Top 5 Final Countdown Boston/Glory By Honor 8 Weekend Matches

5) Kevin Steen vs Eddie Edwards (*** – Final Countdown Tour Boston)

4) Roderick Strong vs Nigel McGuinness (**** – Final Countdown Tour Boston)

3) Bryan Danielson vs Nigel McGuinness (**** – Glory By Honor 8)

2) American Wolves vs Kevin Steen/El Generico (****1/2 – Glory By Honor 8)

1) Davey Richards vs Bryan Danielson (****1/2 – Final Coutdown Tour Boston)

Top 7 Final Countdown Tour Matches

7) Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe vs Young Bucks (**** – Dayton)

6) Davey Richards vs Claudio Castagnoli (**** – Dayton)

5) Chris Hero vs Bryan Danielson (**** – Dayton)

4) Austin Aries vs Bryan Danielson (**** – Chicago)

3) Bryan Danielson vs Nigel McGuinness (**** – Glory By Honor 8)

2) American Wolves vs Kevin Steen/El Generico (****1/2 – Glory By Honor 8)

1) Davey Richards vs Bryan Danielson (****1/2 – Boston)

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